City Steady The Ship
The Football Season has returned and with it the first home game.
After last week`s horror show at Fulham it was crucial that Norwich City gave their supporters a performance, and in my opinion they did.
Wholesale changes were made at the back with almost the whole defence being changed. Bassong and Barnett started in the centre with Garrido on the left, Russell Martin was the only defender to keep his place.
Up front, Holt was supported by Simeon Jackson. To my mind, Holt always seems more effective with a strike partner and isn`t as good at the lone striker role as Steve Morison is.
Within two minutes, Holt had introduced himself to Anton Ferdinand, leaving the QPR defender in a crumpled heap. As the game wore on it was clear that Ferdinand was not the only one to be troubled by Holt. Clint Hill just couldn`t handle him and started a series of fouls against Holty.
City found their rhythm quickly and some of the passing was a joy to watch. It took just eleven minutes for Jackson to open the scoring.
A number of lovely passes were exchanged between Johnson, Jackson and Snodgrass on the edge of the QPR area before the ball went wide left to Pilkington who clipped a sweet cross across goal which Jackson got on the end of - one nil.
All of QPR`s attempts at getting forward were dealt with fairly easily by Barnett and Bassong who didn`t miss much in the air all afternoon. It was also clear that much of the Hoops` threat would depend on them looking for Cisse to use his pace.
Their equaliser, when it came on 19 minutes involved Cisse.
Bassong and Cisse came together as the City defender stretched for the ball, which he won. Cisse fell forward in slow motion and referee Clattenburg pointed to the penalty spot.
It was right in front of me, and my immediate reaction was disbelief. It looked very soft indeed. To add insult to injury, Ruddy saved Cisse`s penalty and tipped it on to a post. Unfortunately, Zamora was on hand to slot in the rebound.
You might think that he reacted quicker to the rebound than the City defence but when you see that he was encroaching by at least three yards when the kick was taken. You can`t help feel hard done by. What exactly is the linesman supposed to be looking for? How he missed it was shocking.
Ruddy was furious and raged at his defenders for not matching Zamora - he`d done his bit and couldn`t do anything more. He kicked the post in anger as the ball was hoofed forward for the kick off.
The rest of the half was City`s but they couldn`t find another goal. Holt continued to bully Clint Hill resulting in the QPR man being booked after pulling Holt down when he`d beaten Hill with a clever turn.
Another similar incident, off the ball this time resulted in Hill having a long talking to from the referee, this was just before half time.
Mark Hughes had seen enough and knew, as did the whole stadium that if Hill stayed on he would get himself sent off.
Hill was replaced by Onuoha at the start of the second half to avert the inevitable.
The half remained mostly City`s, although QPR did have a decent spell around the hour mark.
Robert Snodgrass had been a constant thorn in the Hoops` side and continued in the second half with several terrific runs which resulted in crosses that neither Jackson nor Holt could quite get on the end of. (He also stung Green's hands with a long range rasper in the first half) But I`ve seen enough to say with confidence that he will be a very good player for us.
At the back, Garrido looks the part too and he played with confidence and skill. He also looks to get forward when he can and in the second half played a delicious cross into the box that had "goal" written all over it - Snodgrass headed just over with the goal gaping.
The game`s second terrible refereeing decision came when Onuoha and Green got in a mix up on the edge of the area. Green clearly handled the ball outside the box and the whole stadium, except the ref and his assistants saw it - unbelievable.
That would`ve been a straight red card and an almost certain City victory.
City continued to press and Russell Martin headed against the bar late on. But it finished as a draw.
I thoroughly enjoyed the match though, great entertainment. The result was a little disappointing and I consider it two points dropped, but we got a reaction.
The performance here suggests that we have not suddenly become rubbish overnight.
Howson and Johnson were mostly good in the middle and Snodgrass looks a player. Pilkington had a terrific first half but didn`t see so much of the ball in the second. He also seemed to tire and could`ve benefited from being subbed, perhaps to give Wes Hoolahan a chance to unlock the Rangers defence as he did so effectively last season.
Holt looks a little chunky, as he did this time last year but he was still too much for Clint Hill to handle. Jackson was very lively and deserved his goal but he still wasted a couple of other opportunities.
I have no doubt that Bassong and Barnett have played themselves into at least another start at Spurs, as has Garrido - I think Marc Tierney may be warming the bench for a while if Javier keeps this up.
As I said, we got a performance here and we`ll all be upset at the dropped points but the ship has been steadied.
Before the game, Alexander Tettey was introduced to the crowd and it was talk of other potential signings that filled the air around me.
There is general surprise among the Carrow Road faithful that James Vaughan has gone on loan to Huddersfield. However, the bloke that sits behind me says that he has a mate that works with Michael Foulger. He reckons that Jordan Rhodes is on the horizon and that Vaughan is part of the deal. Rumour & speculation? Probably. But the fact that Huddersfield have signed Vaughan suggests they may be getting ready to sell Rhodes.
Chris Hughton has said that City will work right up to the deadline to add to the squad if it will benefit us. I don`t think he`s done just yet…